Saudi Arabia's religious police, responsible for enforcing strict sharia law in the Kingdom, have been criticized in recent months for being too aggressive.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has relieved the current head of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Humayen, from his position. Al-Humayen has been replaced by Sheikh Abdullatif bin Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al-Asheikh, who is considered to be more moderate. Recently there has been growing criticism that the morality police have been overstepping their remit and invading privacy.
According to the Arab News, new appointee Al-Asheikh has voiced support for a more moderate approach, including the opinion that enforced segregation by gender in public is unjustified. He also supports a ban on the marriage of minors.
Earlier this month Saudi Princess Basma, niece of King Abdullah, openly criticized the religious police who enforce sharia law on the populace.Islam Times reported that the princess said the police had "the biggest effect on the Saudi society through separating the sexes and inducing wrong thoughts in the heads of men and women which result in psychological diseases that were unknown in Saudi Arabia like extremism."
Other Saudis have also complained that the role of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has become too aggressive, Arabian Business reported. The budget for the morality police was increased last year, resulting in a more visible presence of its authority on the streets.